09 December 2011

Mamata Regime's Dismal Record With Unorganised Sector Workers

The Ashanghatit Kshetra Shramik Sangrami Manch (Platform of Struggle for Unorganised Sector Workers), made up of 12 unions working for the rights of the unorganized sector workers, released a report on December 8, 2011, at Kolkata Press Club on the first 200 days of Trinamool Congress government's progress on issues and demands raised by the workers of the state.

The press conference, which was attended by various leading newspapers and news channels, addressed a number of issues like the progress of the MNREGA (100 days of work), the public distribution system for cheap food, minimum wages, state of contract workers and Forest Rights.

The Manch released a booklet containing data and information related to all the issues presented at the conference and, along with it, a mark sheet on the government's performance in four areas where it was assessed (MGNREGA, minimum wages, protection of contract workers and forest rights). The government barely passed in one (public distribution system for cheap food).

The organisers also pointed that fighting for better wages for unorganized sector workers was a dangerous pursuit, with death threats being received by Prithvish Bose, adviser of Shramjivi Sammanvay Committee, one of the constituents of the Manch, because of their demands to raise the wages of brick kiln workers. They said that brickfield owners, cutting across party lines, had held a secret meeting in Akash brickfield and it is suspected they have hired professionals to kill Prithvish Bose.

The PHE Water Supply Employees Union (West Bengal), another constituent whose members operate drinking water pumps of the State Government, claimed both the present and the past governments had cheated them. Pump operators receive a daily wage of Rs169. Payment is irregular, with some workers having dues for 12-15 months. The work, which is of a perennial nature, continues to be contractual in violation of the law. The union said it would start a dharna in front of their Minister’s office from December 12, which would be then converted to a hunger strike if their demands for timely payments, permanent status and minimum wages were not met. It said that all pump operators would also resort to mass casual leave from December 26 if the government persisted in ignoring them.

The unions, who are part of the Manch, are far from happy with the performance of the government on issues related to the deprived classes and the unorganized sector. There was enough evidence to believe that the government was not doing what it could do and that it had diverged from the pre-election promises.

Summary In English
Report Bangla
Summary of Report in Bangla

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